Got a question? Ask Lawmail

Send your questions to Lawmail

Can't find the info you are looking for?Got a problem you can’t solve?

If you're under 25, or an adult asking on behalf of a person under 18, you can send your questions to Lawmail and we will email an answer to you in under 10 days. Urgent matters are dealt with more quickly.

Go to Lawmail. It’s free and confidential.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

School uniforms

If you are under 25 and you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities or what to do next, you can get free, confidential legal advice at Lawmail.


Can my public school make me wear a uniform?

Public Schools

Yes, public schools in Victoria can make you wear a particular uniform and clothes if that’s what you school rules say. Schools can also to take reasonable measures to discipline you if you don’t follow the dress code. For example, they might give you a detention or you might not be able to participate in a certain activity (like sport), or for safety reasons.

Your school may also have a specific uniform policy (sometimes called a dress code) which explains what you can wear and what happens if you don’t follow the rules. You can ask for a copy of your dress code policy. You can also check your school website for it.  Your school must be able to give you a copy of the rules if you ask for them.  

For more information about dress codes in Victorian public schools, visit the Victorian Education website page on dress codes.

Private schools

If you attend a non-government school, your school can also make you wear a uniform.  When your parents sign an enrolment agreement, they are agreeing that you will wear the right uniform.    You should check your school’s rules to find out what the school can do if you don’t follow your school’s rules on uniforms. The rules (and the consequences for breaking them) should be clearly set out in a written policy, be applied in a fair way and comply with anti-discrimination laws.

Your school should be able to give you a copy of these if you ask. 


What can I do if my parents can’t afford the uniform?

Q. My name is Sam and I go to a public school in Melbourne. What can i do if my parents can't afford the uniform?

A. Hi Sam. There are two things you can do. If your family are having some troubles affording the uniform, your can ask your school for an exemption from wearing some parts of the uniform. In Victoria, public schools have to give an exemption if your parents can show that they are suffering from particular economic hardship which makes it tough for you to afford the uniform. To apply for an exemption, your parents should write a letter to the principal. You can also arrange a meeting with the Principal, your parents and yourself. 

You can also contact the State Schools’ Relief for help.  They are a charity who can help you and your family with affording uniforms and footwear if you go to a public school. To apply for the Schools’ Relief program, you will need to ask your Principal who will decide whether you can get the uniform as part of this program.


Can my public school in Ballarat refuse to allow me to wear items of religious or cultural importance, like a necklace with a cross on it?

Some students may wish to wear things for a religious or cultural reasons, like head coverings, jewellery or a tattoo.  The Victorian government policy says that public schools should make sure that their dress codes can cater to students of all different cultural, racial and religious background.   

Your school is not allowed to unreasonably enforce a uniform policy if it discriminates against you based on your religion, ethnicity or cultural background.  Also, when deciding a uniform policy, a school has to make sure that they have taken into account students with different parts of the school community, including people of different religions and cultures.  

You or your parents can ask your principal for an exemption from the dress code.  To apply for an exemption, your parents should write a letter to the principal.  You can also arrange a meeting with the Principal, your parents and yourself.  If you’re still having problems after talking to the school, you may be able to make a complaint based on discrimination.

Can my school in Geelong make me wear my school uniform outside school hours and on excursions?

Yes. If you go to a public school, generally your uniform policy applies during school hours, while traveling to and from school, and when students are engaged in school activities out of school hours (like Saturday sport).

To find out whether your school has after school hours uniform policy, please have look at your school dress code. You should be able to get a copy of this from your school office.

If you go to a private school, you should check your school’s policy to see what it says about wearing uniform outside of school hours.


Can my school tell me how long my hair can be or ask me to remove piercings?

As part of a uniform policy or dress code, schools can make rules about what you can wear in terms of non-clothing items. This includes jewellery, tattoos, piercings, make up and the length, style and colour of your hair.   Many of these things might be a safety risk, for example piercings, jewellery and hair length when doing things like playing sport or in design or art class.

Your school is generally allowed to ban you from wearing these things and you may be punished if you keep wearing them.   If you think that the uniform policy is unfair, you might want to try talking to your Principal.  You could also speak to the Parents’ Association and see if other parents think the rules are unreasonable.  That way you could work with the school to make the rules fairer.    

If you go to a public school in Victoria, your school cannot suspend or expel you for not following the uniform policy unless they have tried all other options which haven’t worked.   If you go to a private school, your school may be able to do these things but they should have a written policy that explains it and you should be treated fairly and given a fair opportunity to respond to the school’s concerns.


This page was last updated on 10 March 2015.

  Insert text regarding ALL STATES here.
  You can choose to insert either:
     · Content that directly applies to ALL STATES of Australia.
     · A footnote that will be seen below the existing content of each state.